His Eminence 
Leonardo Sandri
Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Leonardo Sandri.jpg
Enthroned 9 June 2007
Predecessor Ignace Daoud
Successor incumbent
Ordination 2 December 1967
Consecration 11 October 1997
Created Cardinal 24 November 2007
Other Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela (1997-2000)
Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico (2000)
Substitute for General Affairs (2000-2007)
Personal details
Born November 18, 1943 (1943-11-18) (age 74)
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Leonardo Sandri (born 18 November 1943) is an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the current Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches in the Roman Curia, having previously served as Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela (1997-2000), Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico (2000) and Substitute for General Affairs (2000-2007). He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2007.


Early life and ordination

Leonardo Sandri was born in Buenos Aires to Antonio Enrico Sandri and Nella Righi, who had emigrated to Argentina from Ala, a village in the province of Trento in Italy.[1] He studied humanities, philosophy and theology at the Metropolitan Seminary of Buenos Aires, and earned a Licentiate in Theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina. On 2 December 1967, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Juan Aramburu.[2]

Pastoral work

He then served as parochial vicar of Nuestra Señora del Carmen in Villa Urquiza and secretary to Archbishop Aramburu until 1970, when he was sent to further his studies in Rome. He there attended the Pontifical Gregorian University, from where he obtained a doctorate in canon law, and the Pontifical Latin American College.[3] In 1971, he entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, which trains papal diplomats.[1]

Diplomatic work

In 1974, Sandri became an official of the Apostolic Nunciature in Madagascar and Mauritius, which also serves as the Apostolic Delegation in the islands of Comoros and Réunion in the Indian Ocean.[1]

He then served in the Vatican Secretariat of State, as secretary of the Substitute for General Affairs, from 1977 to 1989; and in the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States, as permanent observer of the Holy See before the Organization of American States, from 1989 to 1991.

He became regent of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household on August 22, 1991, and assessor of the Section for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State on April 2, 1992.[3] On 22 July 1997, Sandri was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela and Titular Archbishop of Aemona by Pope John Paul II.


He received his episcopal consecration on the following 11 October from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, with Cardinal Aramburu and Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re serving as co-consecrators, at St. Peter's Basilica.[2] He selected as his episcopal motto: "Ille Fidelis", meaning, "Remain Faithful" (2 Timothy 2:13). After two years in Venezuela, he briefly served as Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico from 1 March to 16 September 2000, when he was named Substitute for General Affairs.[2]

Secretariate of State

As Substitute, Sandri held the third most important position within the Vatican (after the Cardinal Secretary and the Pope himself), serving essentially as the chief of staff of the Secretariat of State.[4]

During the time of John Paul II's declining health, he would read the texts that the Pope could not personally deliver; he later announced the Pope's death to the world from St. Peter's Square on the evening of 2 April 2005, saying, "Our Holy Father John Paul has returned to the house of the Father...We all feel like orphans this evening."[5] [6]

Congregation for the Oriental Churches

On 9 June 2007, Sandri was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches by Pope Benedict XVI.[7] Succeeding Ignace I Daoud, he heads the curial congregation that handles matters regarding the Eastern Catholic Churches and is the ex officio Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

Sandri, who visited the Holy Land in February 2008,[8] has lamented the emigration of Christians from that region, saying, "This lack of peace makes Christians emigrate and leave their land behind. So we're left with a purely geological, physical presence of Jesus, and not with the presence of those that grew with him and lived his faith, and that continue to follow him today like disciples of his very homeland."[9] Some have attributed the delay in the canonization process for John Paul II to Sandri's apparent reluctance to testify in the effort.[10]


Benedict XVI created him Cardinal-Deacon of S. Biagio e Carlo ai Catinari in the consistory of 24 November 2007.[3] He delivered the message of thanksgiving to the Pope on behalf of the new cardinals.[11]

In addition to his duties as Cardinal Prefect, Sandri is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Pontifical Commission for Latin America and Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State.[1] He is eligible to participate in a papal conclave until he reaches the age of 80 on 18 November 2023.

He speaks English, French, German, Italian and Spanish.[3]


Jewish-Christian relations

Cardinal Sandri was present at Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the Yad Vashem memorial and commented that his speech was a source of joy for both Christians and Jews. [12]

Iraqi Christians

Sandri has said that although the regime of Saddam Hussein was dictatorial, it is undeniable that Iraqi clergy and laity felt more secure under his regime and that their liturgical life went on undisturbed. [13]

Religious illiteracy

Cardinal Sandri has praised the work of L'Osservatore Romano and the Vatican Publishing House for their work in combatting religious, biblical and ecclesial illiteracy. [14]

Preceded by
Oriano Quilici
Apostolic Nunico to Venezuela
22 July 1997–1 March 2000
Succeeded by
André Pierre Louis Dupuy
Preceded by
Justo Mullor García
Apostolic Nuncio to Mexico
1 March 2000–16 September 2007
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Bertello
Preceded by
Giovanni Battista Re
Substitute for General Affairs
16 September 2000–1 July 2007
Succeeded by
Fernando Filoni
Preceded by
Ignace Daoud
Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches
1 July 2007–present
Succeeded by
Styles of
Leonardo Cardinal Sandri
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "SANDRI Card. Leonardo". Holy See. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Leonardo Cardinal Sandri". 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "SANDRI, Leonardo". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. 
  4. O'Connell, Gerard (2007-06-11). "Key Vatican appointment signals that Benedict’s chosen team fully in place". UCA News. 
  5. "Pope John Paul II dies in Vatican". BBC. 2005-04-03. 
  6. "World Mourns Passing of Pope John Paul II". Fox News. 2005-04-03.,2933,152272,00.html. 
  8. "Vatican Prelate Visiting Eastern Catholics in Holy Land". Catholic World News. 2008-02-27. 
  9. "Vatican asks for help in stopping exodus of Christians from Holy Land". Rome Reports. 2009-04-08. 
  10. Roberts, Tom (2009-06-03). "What's behind delay in JPII canonization?". National Catholic Reporter. 
  12. ZENIT article
  13. ESM
  14. ZENIT

External links

Catholic-pagescs:Leonardo Sandrila:Leonardus Sandrino:Leonardo Sandript:Leonardo Sandri ru:Сандри, Леонардо uk:Леонардо Сандрі